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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 1-12-22

Past Conditions

It’s been a WILD month across the Commonwealth, with both severe and wintry weather. The second box was checked this past week with a widespread, impactful snowstorm across the state, followed by the coldest temperatures we’ve seen in quite some time. I joined Drs. Josh Jackson and Morgan Hayes on the latest “Have You Herd?” podcast this week and discussed the craziness of this past month and what to expect moving forward. Give it a listen, here!


Looking back at the past week, another winter storm worked through portions of SE Kentucky on Monday, resulting in snow accumulations of 1 to 4 inches. Dry conditions and mild temperatures followed for the next couple of days, before the passage of a cold front on Wednesday. While the boundary's passage didn’t produce any precipitation, temperatures plummeted, setting the stage for Thursday’s big snow event.  

Snow started on Thursday morning across Western Kentucky and quickly expanded to the east. Temperatures well below freezing led to a dry, fluffy snow with heavy snow bands capable of dumping 1 to 2 inches per hour. The snowfall was quick with the activity tapering off by early overnight across Eastern Kentucky. However, the system left its mark, as shown in the National Weather Service maps below. Much of the state saw at least 4 to 6 inches. Accumulations were highest on a line from primarily Elizabethtown to Lexington, with totals of 6 to around 10 inches.  


Travel impacts were numerous across the state with heavy snowfall rates overtaking roadways. It didn’t help that temperatures plummeted into the single digits by Friday morning. Another round of extreme cold followed on Saturday morning. Some folks dipped below zero. Based on data from the Ag Weather Center, there was a tie for the lowest temperature recorded for the week, with Paintsville and Brandenburg Mesonet stations both dropping to -3! The livestock cold stress index dropped into the Emergency category for much of the area. UK Ag Communications released a warning last week about livestock cold stress. That article is a good reminder of the precautions that producers can take moving forward through the winter season. Can we fast-forward to spring NOW?!? 

While we did warm up on Saturday and Sunday, the state saw another round of precipitation, but this time, in the form of rainfall. Widespread light to moderate rain showers led to totals of 1 to 2.5 inches for much of the state, which caused localized flooding. It has been an exceptionally wet start to 2022 with data at the Ag Weather Center showing the state has averaged 4.23 inches through the 11th. We normally only average 3.74 inches for the entire month of January. Below are those year-to-date accumulations through 7am EST, January 12th.  


Data for the Past 7 Days 

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Following our round of rainfall last weekend, we’ve stayed dry and cool over the first half of the workweek. As of this afternoon (1/12), there are still some portions of the Ohio and Green Rivers across Western Kentucky in minor to moderate flood stages but those levels will recede over the coming days. Outside of isolated to widely scattered rain/snow showers on Thursday/Thursday night (non-impactful), most will remain dry through Friday. That’s when the forecast really gets dicey.  

You’ve probably already heard that there is the potential for another snowstorm this weekend. I want to highlight the word, POTENTIAL. Models currently hint at a frontal system passing to our south, which would place Kentucky on the north side of the disturbance with an increased potential for frozen precipitation. There is still a ton of uncertainty with this system four days out in the future. While models may be hinting at significant snow right now, a slight shift in the track of the disturbance can lead to a very different outcome. But don't worry yet. I’ll send out an update as we move closer to the weekend when forecast confidence increases, and if the forecast trends in an unfavorable direction. Remember, winter weather is one of the hardest things to forecast in the meteorological profession. As of now, don’t take snowfall total forecasts to heart. THEY WILL CHANGE. Despite that, there is at least a chance for heavy snow, so stay tuned to the forecast for updates.  

I included a look at one model run below. Keep in mind that there are multiple models to analyze. Also, the number of models available will increase as the event gets closer. This is the 7am EST run of the GFS model. The focus will be how the track of that red “L” (low pressure center) evolves with future model runs. That will have an impact on total accumulations, timing, and even precipitation type. It currently shows a snowy outlook for this weekend, but once again, THERE WILL LIKELY BE CHANGES. Stay tuned. 


Related News from UK and Beyond

January edition of the Kentucky Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar – Kentucky Climate Center, January 6, 2022 

Winter weather pushes livestock cold stress into emergency category – Aimee Nielson, UK Ag Communications, January 6, 2022 

December tornadoes prompt diligence in managing cattle after severe weather - Aimee Nielson, UK Ag Communications, January 11, 2022 

The Great Siberian Thaw, Letter from Siberia, The New Yorker, January 10, 2022


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